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TURNHOUT WATER, FOREST & HEATH URBANISMS URBANISM STUDIO Fall 2010 I MaHS-MaUSP-EMU I KULeuven I Bruno De Meulder, Oana Bogdan, Christian Nolf


Belgium Belgium/Romania Santa Lucia Belgium Belgium/Slovakia Mexico Ethiopia Lebanon Belgium Belgium Taiwan Italy Romania Belgium Belgium Ireland Spain Belgium India Iran Russia Iran Belgium Belgium China

Editors Bruno DE MEULDER Christian NOLF Oana BOGDAN

More info? MAHS / MAUSP / EMU Master programs Department ASRO, K.U.Leuven Kasteelpark Arenberg 1, B-3001 Heverlee, Belgium Tel: +32 (0) 16 321391 Fax: +32 (0) 16 321984 E-mail :


p.4 p.6 p.12 p.28 p.30



Turnhout is a provincial city, peripherally-located in the Noorderkempen region close to the border with The Netherlands and surrounded by – for Belgian standards – a quite interesting natural environment. Currently in a dynamic of growth partly due to a continuous influx of new (rich) inhabitants and the need of space for industry, the challenge that Turnhout sees for itselfs is to respond to these spatial claims while trying to maintain/enhance its spatial qualities.



Roosendaal Bergen op Zoom


Turnhout Terneuzen Oostende


Antwerpen Sint−Niklaas Mechelen

Gent Roeselare




Leuven Kortrijk

While city authorities are planning, following the structure plan of Flanders’ dogmas, to fill the last gaps of its open space in the inner city, the following design investigations test alternative development strategies focussing on the strategic role of open space and nature. More specifically, it integrates the current water management issues of the city*, whereby a new storm water retention and infiltration system should be developed in the city and more room should be made for the surrounding creeks. Developing water as a tactical tool, the studio rethinks the relationship city-nature and re-conceptualizes concepts of development. In parallel, the studio focuses on (the production of) health as a programmatic leitmotif. Present in regional socio-economic development plans**, in planned projects for the city *** and deeply inscribed in the region’s knowledge base and traditions in care, the theme of health meets the spatial characteristics of the region, with its abundance of green space and its stereotyped remoteness. It is the ambition of the following investigations to provide a rich spatial and conceptual foil for the city’s ambitions to become a leading, health-oriented provincial city, be it not necessarily only the predominantly market rental modi that were envisioned until now. The design investigations on Turnhout, while looking at the structuring capacity of fabrics and canalizing flows of development in the landscape, address stepstones and ambitions to contribute to a fundamental rethinking of urbanism, transcending the stereotypes of the urban project and the structure plan.


Maastricht Wavre Liège



Béthune Namur

Mons Lens Douai





Péronne Saint−Quentin





Oud-Turnhout Vosselaer

Recently Flooded Areas

* Although the urban region of Turnhout is situated in an upstream location, it is nevertheless confronted with challenging water issues. On the one hand, extensive and ongoing paving of the urban area is apparently the main factor of an increase in storm water run-off and consequent flooding downstream. On the other hand, the city itself is facing the limits of its’ combined (black and grey water) sewer system, which is subject to overflows in the event of heavy rain. In response to these challenges, city authorities are planning an ambitious project to decouple the sewer network. It implicates the development of a new (piped) storm water system and new floodplains along the surrounding creeks. ** The RESOC Streekpact 2007-2012 and the Toekomstplan 2005-2015 of the Strategische Projectenorganisatie Kempen vzw. The choice of putting health forward inscribes itself in a familiar macroeconomic discourse that holds that the demand for health care in a postindustrial society such as Belgium is inexorably increasing, whilst the means at the disposal of the state to accommodate these needs are under considerable pressure. For the Kempen region these issues announce themselves as even more important given the particular acuteness of the ageing challenge, constraints in general and specialized health care infrastructure, and the relatively low number of social profit jobs compared to the rest of Flanders. *** Including the redevelopment of the railway station area into a care-oriented ‘Urban Innovation Pool’ hosting a ‘Living and Care’ centre, a business incubator and a ‘Living Lab’.




Rivers (black), urban areas (grey) and recently flooded areas (red).

100 km

1878 2025


1800 Evolution of the urban area from 1800 to 2000 (from dark to light grey) and new areas to be developed by 2025 (in red) according to the structure plan of the city


WHERE (THE HELL) IS TURNHOUT? The following (XX)L – M – S reading of the city tries to map Turnhout in terms of singularity and opportunities at different scales: which are the features and hidden qualities that have the capacity to structure future urban (re)developments? Based on the outcome of the first phases of the studio - Interpretative Analysis and Concept formulation - during which participants looked at the city through specific lenses, with open space as an underlying common focus: density and urban morphologies, water structures and (new) water management issues, transformation of (transport) infrastructures and new mobility challenges, parcel system and forms of productions (agriculture, forests), urban-nature interfaces, logics of (new) industrial platforms, etc. This positioning of Turnhout served as a basis for the definition of design strategies, developed in the next stage of the research design.


A ‘Green Lung’ Receptor of the mad, the bad and the sad

At the large scale, it was discovered that Turnhout is at the centre of a ‘Green Lung’: a large area characterized by the absence of important transit infrastructures and by a very sparse mode of urbanization. Located right in the middle of Europe’s densest mesh of canals, roads and railways, the preservation of this oasis of quietness finds its origin in a combination of factors:



- There is firstly the remarkable slow (incremental) development of the Noorderkempen -in comparison with surrounding regions. Located on a sandy plateau characterized by water scarcity, infertility and tough climate conditions, the region was long inhospitable to any form of settlement. Following a deforestation episode during the Middle Ages, it remained for centuries a desolate heath land, with the exception of small villages in creek valleys based on a subsistence economy (living from nature/what can be taken from nature), a few abbeys and Turnhout as the single founded town. It was not until the mid-19th century, with the development of infrastructures (road and canal) and the founding of forest domains on former heath lands that the NoorderKempen began to gradually develop. It nevertheless still remains today one of the least densely inhabited region in Flanders. - The canal (Dessel-Turnhout-Schoten) played an important role as a physical barrier, containing urban expansion northwards. - The border location of the region of Turnhout explains the lack of north-south connections, including the interrupted railway track that gives today the terminus station of Turnhout an interesting ‘end of the world’ flavour. It also explains the important presence on both sides of (in the mean time) abandoned military infrastructures (e.g. airport, hangars..) and of weird and elsewhere undesired functions, such as prisons, hospitals, colonies, asylums, or hazardous industrial activities. While most of these programs have a strong spatial figure with their stamp-like spatial footprint, they’re also pending for a second wind. They are open to be re-interpreted and re-programmed. --> The features of this preserved green pocket (quietness, remoteness, relicts of obsolete programs) should all be seen as qualities and opportunities to be reinforced. Of comparable size with regional green entities such as the Dutch ‘Groen Hart’ or the ‘Biesbosch’, the concept of a Noorderkempen ‘Green Lung’ could become a carrier for the region. The city of Turnhout, as one of its main access points, could simultaneously take advantage and contribute to this regional project. 6





Roosendaal 77.571







Beerse 17.003


Malle 14.000


Voselaar 10.250

Oud-Turnhout 12.864

Sint-Antonius 4454

465 000

Lommel Neerpelt Mol 33.769

Herentals 26.000 Geel 37 087 Lier 33.000






Roosendaal 77.571








Beerse 17.003 Malle 14.000


Voselaar 10.250

Oud-Turnhout 12.864

Sint-Antonius 4454

465 000

Lommel Neerpelt Mol 33.769

Herentals 26.000 Geel 37 087 Lier 33.000


Groene Hart


Green Lung ?

At the very large scale, Turnhout can be seen as the centre of a ‘Green Lung’, a large area characterized by quietness, low density and natural/landscape qualities.



Nature + Distorting Infrastructures

Turnhout can be identified at the medium scale as belonging to an east-west urban continuum, framed and articulated by three main infrastructures - the canal, the national road and the highway. History reveals that the urban area was originally intimately determined by an underlying north-south valleys structure. Embryos of settlements were to be found either on the higher grounds, either down into the valleys. The former type of settlement (Beerse, Vosselaer, and the centre of Turnhout) developped at the crossing of most important roads, usually following ridge lines. The latter type of settlement (OudTurnhout, Oosthoven, Heyzeide) consists of bridge-villages across the creeks at their most narrow point (in toponomy labeled with the “-donk” suffix), helped or not by an artificial dam (called “dijk”). From the 19th century, the development largely followed the superimposed east-west infrastructures. Each one generated a specific type of development and often contributed to blur the legibility of the water structure. The straight national road coming from Antwerp (1800), polarized the incremental development of pre-existing cores. The construction of the canal (1846-66) led to the fortuitous discovery of clay. The consecutive blooming of brick industries along the canal and its transportation function made it the main economic axis of the region for a century, stimulating urban growth northwards. The highway, built south of the city in 1973, spoiled the structuring presence of the river with new industrial developments in the middle of the marshy valley.



--> Uncovering the latent north-south ‘natural’ structure across the east-west urban region allows to interweave the qualities of green/ openness/ quietness into it, so that the urban region isn’t only next to the ‘Green Lung’, but also penetrated by it. In other words, the reactivation of the natural structure could help to articulate, give a role and meaning to the (leftover) open spaces, which would otherwise get further consumed by the (concentric logic of) urbanization.

The former predominant presence of the north-south rivers structure (left: Chanlaire Capitaine map (1780’s)) was gradually blurred with the superimposition of three main east-west infrastructures: the national road from Antwerpen (1800), the canal Dessel-Turnhout-Schoten (1866), and the highway Antwerpen-Eindhoven (1973).




5 km



5 km


An east-west imposition of man made infrastructures / ruptures ...

North-south river structure versus the east-west infrastructures.



Grey - Green Alterations

Zooming in, the porous character of Turnhout’s urban fabric appears more clearly. A vast amount of open and forested spaces of different sizes, quality and origins are integrated into the urban tissue: remnants of the natural creek structure, margins of infrastructures, gardens of institutional functions, agricultural plots captured by ribbon developments, post industrial wastelands...etc. Mostly ignored and unexplored, they nevertheless provide locally a precious (informal) spatial quality to the fabric. --> In order to reinforce and qualify these open spaces as the basis of an alternative form of urbanization/densification from the void, they deserve a particular attention. There’s a need to first understand their inner logic, but also to asses their capacity to fit into a broader logic. With eyes half-closed, these open spaces can be interpreted as belonging to the logic of a barcode: ‘green’ stripes of open and forested spaces that intersperse vertically the urbanized area, longitudinally framed by the canal and the highway. Some of these stripes are wide and quiet obvious - like the creek valleys embracing the city of Turnhout. Some others are much less present and need to be rediscovered or even constructed like stepping stones - like the informal underused spaces confined in the denser fabric of the city. This articulation of open spaces could go hand in hand with the restoration of the natural creek structure. It could also match with the development of soft mobility strategies, or with the implementation of the planned storm water retention/infiltration system, which follows as well a strong north-south orientation.

As well between the different parts of the city as in the urban fabric itself, Turnhout is marked by a vast amount of (mostly informal) open spaces of different origins and characters.


Parking pockets

Institutions and voids

Underused land and industries with voids

New projects with voids


PROVINCIAL(c)ITY Turnhout reconfigured









The interpretation of the urban region as a grey-green barcode defines a number of specific areas. They are the focus of 7 design proposals: The project EMBEDDING MOBILITY, next to a broader proposal for mobility issues in Turnhout, addresses the hypothetical withdrawal of the northsouth railway infrastructure inside the city. DANCING WITH THE VALLEY focuses on the water-based open spaces of the neighbouring town of Beerse. The project WEAVING IN-BETWEENITY addresses the (re)qualification of the forested creek valley west of Turnhout, while ADDRESSING THE AA looks at the structuring capacity of the river Aa, east of the city. A bit more to the south, FOUNDATIONAL GRID explores new possible complementarities between the river Aa, the road infrastructure and the (new) industrial platforms. Next to these projects focussing on the urban area, the project TURN-IN TURN-(H)OUT proposes a cross section approach where the features of the northern plateau, the inner city voids and the valley landscape to the south form together the elements of new urban-nature interplays. Finally, the project GRID REVISITED explores the open space landscape of the northern plateau and tests new modes of productive landscape.


EMBEDDING MOBILITYRe-claiming the space ofspace infrastructures EMBEDDING MOBILITY Reclaiming the of infrastructures Balaji SamanSeifollahi Seifollahi Balaji Mohan, Mohan -Kevin KevinPenalva Penalvaand - Saman

The Flemish Region plans a new light rail to connect Antwerp to TurnThe Flemish plansextending a new light rail to tothe connect Antwerp hout (and in aRegion later phase further East), but there to is Turnhout (to be in a later phase furthercould extended to theintegrated East), but no clear vision of how this infrastructure be spatially there is no clear vision of how this infrastructure could betospaƟ ally in Turnhout’s fabric. Moreover, by offering the possibility downintegrated fabric. Moreover, by oīering grade someinofTurnhout’s its heavy car and rail infrastructures, thethe newpossibility mobility to downgrade some of its for heavy rail infrastructures, the new network is an opportunity the car city and to strengthen its quiet character mobility network is an opportunity for the city to strengthen its quiet and to (re) development of (new) attractive urban environments. character and to (re) develop (new) aƩracƟve urban environments. The project “Embedding Mobility” addresses the light rail as an urban The projectin“Embedding Mobility” addresses the new light rail as an generator a two-stage intervention: urban generator in a two-stage intervenƟon: (1) A first stage defines an optimal trajectory loop within the city (1) A rst stage nes an density, opƟmal main trajectory loop within the city centre, based on de population destinations, and areas to centre, based in onthe populaƟ on density, main desƟnaƟons, and areas to be developed near future. be developed in the near future. (2) A second stage addresses the hypothetical shift of the (old) railway (2) A second stage and addresses the hypotheƟ cal southern shiŌ of the exisƟng station to the south the downgrading of the segment of railway (train) staƟon to the south and the downgrading of the the ring road. southern segment the ring The rstspace wouldon result a central The former would of result in a road. central open the in former rail open space on theasformer tracks. Conceived as a itnew north south tracks. Conceived a newrail north-south civic Spine, would become civicmain Spine, it would become gateinstigating giving access to therelacity the gate giving access to the the main city and a stronger and insƟbetween gaƟng a stronger relaƟthe onship thesite cityproject’). and the canal tionship the city and canalbetween (see ‘canal (see downgrading ‘canal site project’). of the ringurban wouldplatform, generate The of the The ring downgrading would generate a new a new urban orm, working as a carpet ng main large scale working as a plaƞ carpet connecting main largeconnecƟ scale urban functions: the urban funcƟ ons:train the hospital, a new train andpark bus staƟ thedevelopcity park hospital, a new and bus station, the city andon, a new and aon new the Frac site.seeks This to speci project seeks ment thedevelopment Frac site. Thison specific project openc the woodland to the openarea the by woodland the area making ainpark and proposing in to making to a park and by proposing its perimeter a wide its perimeter a wide range of housing typologies, public equipments, range of housing typologies, public equipments, commerce and leisure commerce and leisure viƟes accessible by allenvisions means. The activities accessible by acƟ all means. The proposal the proposal creation envisions the creaƟ on of an ecologically proled neighbourhood. of an ecologically profiled neighbourhood. 2 14



Sint Pietersinstituut Kanaal

Sint Pietersinstituut

Begijnendreef Oranjemolen

Oude Station

Paarklaan- N18

Sint Jozefcollege KTA VTST



Kwakkel Kempenlaan-N140

100 200m Central Station

Sint Elizabethziekenhuis


Proposal for a new Civic Spine and Urban Platform for Turnhout

house type 4


house type 3


house type 2


Re-establishing corner house type 3

Landscape treatment

Green Development on other side of canal

Pedastrian zone house type 1

house type 1

Cycle path Parking



house type 2

Services road Tram stop Tram line

use type 4


Pedestrian link roads Canal front development Creation of new squares or completing/recreating existing ones

Urban platform project


Canal site project

3 15

Dancing with the valley_beerse re_encounters its territorial rules DANCING WITH THE VALLEY Beerse re_encounters its territorial rules Sven Augusteyns, Augusteyns,Adeybeba Adeyabeba Tadesse Sven Tadesse

An interplay between territorial rules and human needs caused the settling along the wet alluvial plain and the dry hills of the Laakvalley in Beerse. Hamlets were erected on the dry top of the micro ‘cuesta’, An interplay territorial rulesproductive and human needs the farms turned between the dry sandy soils into lands and caused roads were seƩling along the wet alluvial plainnatural and the dry hills of the Laakvalley marking the topography and the flooded zone of the valley. in Beerse. Hamlets were erected thehillsides dry tophave of the micro ‘cuesta’, From the 1960s until present dayonthe been urbanized. farms turned sandy soils into producƟ ve land, lands ad andhoc, roads Farms next tothe thedry hillside hamlets changed their intowere low markingsuburban the topography and infiltration the naturalcapacity ooded of zone the valley. density areas. The theofsandy fields From the ‘60s unƟl present day the hillsides haveplain beenand urbanized. decreased massively causing even a wetter alluvial flooding Farms next tothe thevalley. hillside hamlets changed their land, ad hoc, into low downstream density suburban areas. The inltraƟon capacity of the sandy elds decreased rules massively causinginterventions even a weƩerare alluvial and up ooding Territorial and human usedplain to waken the downstream thevalley, valley.transforming it into a ‘Central Garden’. ‘Dancforgotten creek Territorial rules anddefines humandry intervenƟ are used ‘waken’ upsites the ing with the valley’ and wetons platforms onto two specific forgoƩindicate en creek an valley, transforming it intocondition the community which important geographic in theshared valley land- the scape. ‘Dancing with nes dry wetcanal: plaƞorms on two alluvial plane and thethe topvalley’ of the de ‘cuesta’ nextand to the specic sites which indicate an important geographic condiƟon in the valley the alluvial plane and the top of the to the canal: In the -valley the change of topography and‘cuesta’ soil willnext be stressed by a In the valley the change of topography soil will stressed by a rainwater catchment platform down theand hillside. Thebe valley, threaten rainwater plaƞ orm down hillside. valley, threaten to becomecatchment enclosed by housing andthe turned intoThe a backside, will be to become enclosed housing and turned a backside, willwith be given a front by newby parallel platforms that into can be developed givendensity-low a front by rise newhousing parallelcomplementing plaƞorms that the can existing be developed with high low density high density-low rise housing ng the ng low density urbanization. Between naturalcomplemenƟ floodable area withexisƟ sponge forest and urbanizaƟ . wet fields,on a series of island platforms connected by an ecological strip Between natural oodable to area with sponge of forest and wet elds, a of grasslands are proposed serve programs the health city. series of islandarea plaƞitself ormsbecomes connected by an ecological striptemporary of grassThe floodable a dynamic space were lands and are serving programs of the health cityand areshort proposed. wetlands mixed with productive forests term programs The oodable arearooms. itself becomes a dynamic space were temporary which claim forest wetlands are mixed with producƟve forests and short term programs which rooms. To the claim canalforest a public platform will be attached, connecting two hamTo the canal a public plaƞorm high will be aƩached, connecƟ twoofhamlets lets and allowing alternating density housing. Theng logic an old and allowing ng high density of crossing an old windwinding roadalternaƟ with a rhythm of farmhousing. clusters The andlogic fields, the ing road with a rhythm ofclusters farm clusters and elds, crossing the canal, is canal, is pursued by new of co-housing. pursued by new clusters co-housing. Thethe North-South which The north-south system of which connects dry canal system side and the connects the wet dry canal and the with downstream wet valley stressed downstream valleyside is stressed bicycle paths, soft is pathways, with bicycle paths, pathways, drainage and enhancement of drainage strips andsoŌ enhancement of river strips profiles running down the river proles running down the hill. hill. 2 16

LLaak aak

100 m

200 m

400 m


Year 1

Year 7

Year 7

Year 15








year 15 year 0: planting


beverdam: cleaning

platform: claiming wetland

moving platform

-hindering water -clearing heavy metals

-constructing short term building on newly cutted open space

-shifting building to newly cutted space -allowing new planting on former space



3 17


roads + forest + water Payam Tabrizian Conor O’Brien Esther Jacobs

The city of Turnhout developed along the valley of the river Aa, in a balanced relationship with the surrounding nature. The coming of the highway in the south of Turnhout in 1973 drastically altered this relationship. The highway became the new entrance to the city, but at the same time attracted the development of big industries in the natural flooding areas. This causes today important traffic, water and identity problems. The proposal of ‘Foundational Grid’ aims to answer these different issues with a new multi-layered grid structure, based on a rationalized interpretation of the existing (agricultural) parcels. A first layer uses the new grid to clarify mobility issues: a new loop exit from the highway combined to a new distribution system reprioritize accesses to the city and the industries. A second layer underlines the grid structure with trees. Historical analysis reveals the artificial and moving character of forests in the region, so that a new episode of afforestation is imaginable today as a (tactic) instrument. New lines of tree could address the need for spatial structuring by (re)framing existing industries and accommodate flexible spaces for new ones. As industrial buildings expand, contract, amalgamate or disintegrate over time, the forest remains constant and roots the industrial zone in its context. At the same time, an intense use of trees can help to compensate the impact of the hard parking and road surfaces by water evaporation, retention and infiltration. A third water layer infiltrates and gives an additional function to the grid. An autonomous water management system ensures a slowed down drainage from the industrial area. Interwoven with it, a system of elongated depressed ‘blue fingers’ work as floodable extensions of the valley, so that the industrial area becomes the sponge of the city. By defining a gate to the city, providing a framework to future development and addressing water issues, this project aims to re-ground the southern area of Turnhout with an intelligence of place. 18




ing 1

ng Parki





Âť site plan for the Green Turnhout Industry Zone





500 m

Bicycle route

Existing Industry

Proposed industry

Envisioned Train station

Existing forest patches

Âť concept diagrams for the proposed road/forest/water structures



On clearings, crossings and platforms in the forest valley Valerie Raets, Artur Shakhbazyan, Natasha Calderon

The forested valley of the Visbeek, west of Turnhout, is an interface between two urban areas. Our project reinforces the valley as a structuring entity, (re)organizes east-west connections and proposes new modes of living in the forest. A double north-south pathway is created along the water, playing with a sequence of clearings and water ponds, sports facilities, urban agriculture and institutional buildings. Perpendicularly, a number of new east-west connections are created along existing paths or property lines. Designed as dams, they are combined with retention systems across the river. In the same idea, the national road that cuts through the in-between forest is downgraded. Its reduced profile, combined with the design of a future tram stop area, will clearly marks the predominance of the valley on the road and mark the entrance in the city coming from the west. Three ways to inhabit the valley are proposed: • on the western side, new developments and lines of trees define an edge to the clearings. • on the eastern edge, a proposed phased reconversion of the industrial area turns the former footprint of the industrial buildings into excavated floodable gardens, giving space back to the river. The surrounding platforms are preserved and converted into peninsula’s that can support public spaces, promenades and new housing developments. • inside the forested valley, a number of new clustered and introverted ‘block’ housing typologies refer to the existing domains present in the valley, such as castles and institutional buildings. 20

» analysis

» proposal

» projects plugged on the overall proposal

» industrial platform: a conversion to excavated floodable gardens

» national road platform: downgrading the ‘cutting’ profile

3 21

ADDRESS[ING] THETHE AA - Disclosing waterwater structures ADDRESSING Aa Disclosing structures Mircea Munteanu ChenghsienLee, LeeYongtao - Yongtao Munteanu,-Chenghsien XuXu

The eastern fringe of Turnhout, historically strongly defined by the Aa river, is marked today by a loose incremental urban growth, ignoring and jeopardizing the water river, is marked today by a system. loose incremental urban growth, ignoring and jeopardizing the water system. Our project proposes strategies to recover the structuring role of the natural elements in this area. The Aa valley itself, considered Our project proposes strategies to recover the structuring role as of the the backbone of the new structuring is developed as a green natural elements in this area. Thesystem, Aa valley itself, considered as corthe ridor and supports a new bicycle connection. From thisas backbone, the backbone of the new structuring system, is developed a green corwidth of the valley varies according to its zone of influence. A strategic use of trees, water bodies and open spaces discloses the hidden and inaccessible, reveals the latent waterscapes. use of trees, and water bodies and open spaces discloses the hidden and inaccessible, and reveals the latent waterscapes. The project focuses more particularly on three specific thresholds: a possible new tram station area in Oosthoven, the bridges over the Aa (historical nodes of development: Schorvoort, Oud-Turnhout, and Oosthoven), and the (disorientating) structure of theOosthoven), neighbournodes of development: Schorvoort, urban Oud-Turnhout, and hood of Schorvoort. In-between, the watercourses are expanded and re-naturalized. The still preserved patches open space The are In-between, the watercourses are expanded and of re-naturalized. consolidated through a series of programs and interventions: sports fields, urban agriculture, swimming lake, natural water purification,and space for water retention. The new water-based structure defines a series of places suited for new (alternative) developments and provides them with an “address on the Aa�. In addition, a grammar of possible typologies for living, working and production is proposed. 2 22

MASTER PLAN 1 km 0.5km

9.0 6.0 3.0 0.0 2.0

Section 1

Section 1 Section 2

Perspective of ‘Greening TramLine’

Section 2 9.0 6.0 3.0 0.0 2.0

Perspective of ‘Living in Forest‘

Perspective of ‘Greening Parking‘

Perspective of ‘Greening Cycling‘

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TURN_IN TURN_(H)OUT Encountering water, Enhancing differences, Connecting landscapes TURN_INÊTURN_(H)OUTÊ-ÊEncounteringÊwater,ÊEnhancingÊdifferences,ÊConnectingÊlandscapesÊ Jimena Garcia Galindo, Lyne Jabri, Matteo Motti, Laura Nagels JimenaÊGarciaÊGalindo,ÊLyneÊJabri,ÊMatteoÊMotti,ÊLauraÊNagels

Located at the edge of the the Campine Kempen plateau and framed by three main east-west oriented infrastructures (the canal, the national road ŵĂŝŶĂƐƚͲtĞƐƚŽƌŝĞŶƚĞĚŝŶĨƌĂƐƚƌƵĐƚƵƌĞƐ;ƚŚĞĐĂŶĂů͕ƚŚĞŶĂƟŽŶĂůƌŽĂĚ and the highway), the urban region of Turnhout is marked by a large amount of open spaces. Of variable oriofundervalued undervaluedand andunexplored unexplored open spaces. Of variable gins, sizes andand withwith various degrees of accessibility/secretness, these origins, sizes various degrees of accessibility/secretness, voids the mostthe precious feature offeature the urbanized these represent voids represent most precious of the landscape. urbanized Today underToday the threat (concentric logic of) urban landscape. under of thethe threat of the (concentric logicexpansion, of) urban they need to be recognized and strengthened. expansion, they need to be recognized and strengthened. The project ‘Turn-in Turn-(h)out’ (re)articulate ƚŚĞƐĞ these Turn-(h)out’ proposes to ;ƌĞͿĂƌƟĐƵůĂƚĞ open spaces according to the North-South north-south logic of the underlying natural water system. system͘ Together dŽŐĞƚŚĞƌ with ǁŝƚŚ strategies ƐƚƌĂƚĞŐŝĞƐ of ŽĨ afforestation, ĂīŽƌĞƐƚĂƟŽŶ͕ the ƚŚĞ introduction of new urban water management systems and the re-use ŝŶƚƌŽĚƵĐƟŽŶŽĨŶĞǁƵƌďĂŶǁĂƚĞƌŵĂŶĂŐĞŵĞŶƚƐLJƐƚĞŵƐĂŶĚƚŚĞƌĞͲƵƐĞ of other specific landscape patterns, this latent water structure has the ŽĨŽƚŚĞƌƐƉĞĐŝĮĐůĂŶĚƐĐĂƉĞƉĂƩĞƌŶƐ͕ƚŚŝƐůĂƚĞŶƚǁĂƚĞƌƐƚƌƵĐƚƵƌĞŚĂƐƚŚĞ capacity to support a territorial spatial project of structuring the voids. ĐĂƉĂĐŝƚLJƚŽƐƵƉƉŽƌƚĂƚĞƌƌŝƚŽƌŝĂůƐƉĂƟĂůƉƌŽũĞĐƚŽĨƐƚƌƵĐƚƵƌŝŶŐƚŚĞǀŽŝĚƐ͘ Moreover, DŽƌĞŽǀĞƌ͕ most ŵŽƐƚ ‘left-over’ ͚ůĞŌͲŽǀĞƌ͛ open ŽƉĞŶ spaces ƐƉĂĐĞƐ at Ăƚ both ďŽƚŚ the ƚŚĞ territorial ƚĞƌƌŝƚŽƌŝĂů and ĂŶĚ city scales have an intriguing inner - outer logic, so that their secret character should be delicately addressed. The ofŽĨ north-south trajectories creates interplay dŚĞconstruction ĐŽŶƐƚƌƵĐƟŽŶ EŽƌƚŚ Ͳ ^ŽƵƚŚ ƚƌĂũĞĐƚŽƌŝĞƐ creates between interplay the plateau, urban plane and the valleys. seen between thethe plateau, the urban plane andThe thenorth-plateau valleys. The is Northas a landscape pre-existence, withpre-existence, strong spatial with figures that plateau is seenofasnew a landscape of new strong could host an ‘event-scape’. In the urbanized plane, which can be seen ƐƉĂƟĂůĮŐƵƌĞƐƚŚĂƚĐŽƵůĚŚŽƐƚĂŶ͚ĞǀĞŶƚͲƐĐĂƉĞ͛͘/ŶƚŚĞƵƌďĂŶŝnjĞĚƉůĂŶĞ͕ as a barcode urban andĂůƚĞƌŶĂƟŶŐ natural stripes, rainwater ǁŚŝĐŚ ĐĂŶ ďĞalternating ƐĞĞŶ ĂƐ Ă ďĂƌĐŽĚĞͲ ƐƚƌŝƉƐaŽĨnew ƵƌďĂŶŝƚLJ ĂŶĚ retention supportsƌĞƚĞŶƟŽŶ slow and ƐLJƐƚĞŵ semi-public trajectories. Crossing ŶĂƚƵƌĞ͕ Ăsystem ŶĞǁ ƌĂŝŶǁĂƚĞƌ ƐƵƉƉŽƌƚƐ ƐůŽǁ ĂŶĚ ƐĞŵŝͲ the blocks from the inside, they offer an alternative experience the ƉƵďůŝĐ ƚƌĂũĞĐƚŽƌŝĞƐ͘ ƌŽƐƐŝŶŐ ƚŚĞ ďůŽĐŬƐ ĨƌŽŵ ƚŚĞ ŝŶƐŝĚĞ͕ ƚŚĞLJofŽīĞƌ city and suggestĞdžƉĞƌŝĞŶĐĞ new modesŽĨ of ƚŚĞ densification. In the southern river valĂŶ ĂůƚĞƌŶĂƟǀĞ ĐŝƚLJ͘ /Ŷ ƚŚĞ ^ŽƵƚŚĞƌŶ ƌŝǀĞƌ ǀĂůůĞLJ leys landscape, the historically river-based pattern of the settlements ůĂŶĚƐĐĂƉĞ͕ƚŚĞŚŝƐƚŽƌŝĐĂůůLJƌŝǀĞƌͲďĂƐĞĚƉĂƩĞƌŶŽĨƚŚĞƐĞƩůĞŵĞŶƚƐŝƐ;ƌĞͿ is (re)acknowledged and (re)framed. acknowledged and (re)framed. By capitalizing capitalizingon onthe thediversity diversity open spaces by breaking the of of open spaces andand by breaking the Easteast-west infrastructural barriers new (soft)ƚƌĂũĞĐƚŽƌŝĞƐ͕ trajectories,ƚŚŝƐ this project tĞƐƚ ŝŶĨƌĂƐƚƌƵĐƚƵƌĂů ďĂƌƌŝĞƌƐ ǀŝĂvia ŶĞǁ ;ƐŽŌͿ ƉƌŽũĞĐƚ intents to bring to the fore a new experience of the Kempen Campineregion. region. 2 24

» the North-plateau as ‘event-scape’

» breaking the barrier_facing the canal

» landscape rooms_water encounters





THE GRID REVISITED Translucent landscapes THEÊGRIDÊREVISITEDÊ-ÊTranslucentÊlandscapes Geraldine Lacasse, Evelyne Vanhoutte GŽraldineÊLacasseÊ&ÊEvelyneÊVanhoutte

The Noorderkempen region has historically always been a sparsely The “Noorderkempen” region marked has historically always beenof a sparsely populated area. It is however by a dense network secondpopulated area. It is however by aand dense network of ‘secondary ary infrastructures, such asmarked drainage irrigation ditches, forest infrastructures’ , such drainageroads. and irrigation ditches, agricultural lanes, agricultural andas residential Most of these infrastructures andthe residential and forest lanes. planted Most of in these are heritageroads of productive forests, largeinfrastructures quantities on are the heritageheath of productive forests, planted (mining) in large quantities on the uninhabited lands to fuel the Flemish industry from the uninhabited landsmost to fuel the Flemish industry 19th century.heath Although of those forests (mining) have been felled from the 19th century. Although remained most of those forests been today, their gridded infrastructures and have herehave and there felledappropriated today, their gridded infrastructures remained and have here been for agriculture or housing programs. This leads to and main there hypothesis: been appropriated for use agriculture or housing programs. our what if we those residual forest grids as This leads toofour main hypothesis: what if we use those residual forest receptacles new (built) development? grids as receptacles of new (built) development? While (former forest) grid structures are to be found in different While (former forest) grid structures are to be found in different contexts all over the Kempen, our proposal focuses on one specific contexts all over the Kempen, our proposal focuses on one specific area: the north of the canal Dessel-Turnhout-Schoten. Characterised area: the north of the canal Dessel-Turnhout-Schoten. Characterised by openness, spaciousness and quietness, the northern grid landscape by openness, spaciousness and quietness, the northern grid is accompanied by peculiarly shaped elements, such as 19th century landscape is accompanied by peculiarly shaped elements, such colonies (Wortel, Merksplas), an obsolete military airport and leftover as 19th century colonies (Wortel, Merksplas), an obsolete military patches of forest. More specifically, the area is scattered with a reairport and leftover patches of forest. More specifically, the area is markable amount of greenhouses, indicating an emerging yet - so far, scattered with a remarkable amount of greenhouses, indicating an unorganized industry. emerging yet –so far, unorganized industry. The project ‘Translucent ‘Translucent landscapes’ landscapes’ takes takes the the greenhouse greenhouse industry industry The project as an exploratory exploratory scenario scenario to to re-invest re-invest the the grid grid structure. structure. Applying Applying as an the rules of of aa rationalized rationalized and and self-sustainable self-sustainable mode mode of of production production the rules (clustering, and and extensive water water treat(clustering, renewable renewableenergy-suppliers, energy-suppliers, extensive ment system) in combination with new areas for heath forest, and this treatment system) in combination with new areas and for heath project assesses the assesses capacity of residualofgrid supportgrid a new forest, this project thethe capacity thetoresidual to generation of integrated productive landscape. support a new generation of integrated productive landscape. 2 26


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A few stepstones towards a park The Turnhout design investigations have been anchored in two foundational elements: the reinforcement of the system of open spaces and voids, and the strengthening and re-exposure of the armature of regional and urban water infrastructures. Voids and water infrastructures are used as carrying element of a multi-functional tapestry in which the health-enhancing potential is holographically inscribed through its different scales ranging from the local to the regional, from the tissue level to the landscape structure. It is fitting to introduce the trope of the ‘park’ to characterize the multifaceted and malleable nature of the studio’s spatial concept. This is not the classical imposition of a program on a territory. Turnhout and its environment are projected as a post-car, health-oriented park: an adaptive, multiscale, multifunctional spatial platform for health production. We can identify five spatial and infrastructural anchors, each of which has demonstrable health benefit by itself: 1. Access to open and green space In line with the studio’s guiding concept as a voids-and-waterways matrix, different strategies are deployed to connect citizens to open space, to parks and forests. In the east the fragmentation and enclosure of the river system is countered by the development of a new park corridor along the Aa and Visbeek, that connects and networks the presently existing “green fingers”. In the west, in the discontinuously forested area between Turnhout and Vosselaar, the north-south natural direction is revealed by designing a meandering pathway along the water, connecting most of the clearings as ‘forest rooms’ with naturally public character. In the southern part forestation pattern with strong inherent grid systems are designed to ‘take over’ the urban pockets so as to constrain the development and to lend these villages the experience of ‘living in the forest’. It is important to note that increasing access to green space is one of the most powerful strategies to reduce health inequality. 2. A soft transport system: the tramline The new tramline is a conspicuous element in the studio concept. It functions as a backbone for an ambitious two-stage urban renewal project. This creates two new civic spines: the dismantled railway as a north-south axis, and the downgraded Parklaan as the focal point of a cluster of up-to-date health care and public amenities. 3. An active transport system Turnhout is a city that, by virtue of its scale, lends itself well to nonmotorized mobility. The studio’s concept strengthens expands and strengthens the network of walking and cycling paths in connection with the tram infrastructure, the meshwork of open spaces and key


urban facilities. Parking spaces are pooled to incentivize active transport. 4. Comment vivre ensemble? The housing issue stands at the intersection of many concerns. There is a need to develop new typologies to accomodate the growing number of older people. The transition from a car-based, suburban society to a more flexible, health-oriented post-car city requires a decisive departure from the low rise, low density typologies that have also disfigured Turnhout’s suburban expansion. The reading of the valleys, understanding of settlement structure and the desire to recapture a ‘new porosity’ shape the new urban fabric. 5. Faciliting care, hospitable environments The studio concept provides a diversified platform for forward-looking care facilities. The (old) station area and the downgraded Parklaan emerge as health clusters. That can accommodate novel commercial ecologies – geared towards wellness and preventive medicine. Even the workplace is anticipated to become a place where health will be seen to be increasingly central. As the studio concept weaves together a spatial, material substrate (the open spaces, the north-south latent structure tied to the forest and rivers with their floodplains), a delicate choreography of its urban metabolism (tied to its water management and the ambitious upgrading of its public and active transport infrastructure) and a clear identity as a leading health-oriented provincial city (embodied in the richly variegated health infrastructure, novel housing and settlement typologies, industrial and commercial ecologies and the attractiveness of its public spaces) it constitutes a living, adaptive whole that is able to adjust to the demands of the 21st century and claim position as capital of the Belgo-Dutch ‘Green Lung’ of the Kempen region Of course, we should not forget that the emergence of the modern city has been intimitaly intertwined with the emergence of various forms of biopolitics, very often tied to health-related challenges of sanitation, prevention and cure. In that sense, the first line, any line a designer puts on paper reflects our deep preoccupation with matters of health and bodily regimentation. It is not to be wholly excluded that in the future the city will provide an arena where ideals of citizenship and health equality will increasingly have to square off with a logic of investment and guilt-driven ‘self management’. The studio concept – with its focus on leveraging the power of ‘porosity’ and of ‘idiorrythmical conglomerates’ (Vigano, 2006) as microscopic loci of resistance and emancipation - reflects a conception of health that sees it as fundamental in securing individual autonomy. So, the healthy city appears as an enabling, emancipatory place. This is the kind of healthy city that Turnhout should endeavour to become: a veritable ‘Living Lab’ for all of its citizens.

VIGANO, Paola, ‘The porous city: prototypes of idiorythmical conglomerates’, in: Comment vivre ensemble. Prototypes of idiorrythmical conglomerates and shared spaces, Officina Edizioni, Venezia 2006.


ACKNOWLEDGMENT Department of Spatial Planning, City of Turnhout: Hugo Meeus and Cedric Heerman Guest critics: Lola Sheppard (University of Waterloo) Nina Marie Lister (Ryerson University, Toronto) Lecturers: Bart Wuyts (Director Strategische Projectenorganisatie Kempen vzw) Hugo Meeus (Ruimtelijke Ordening Turnhout) Kassandra Driezen (Coordinator waterschappen Netebekken) Marc Machielsen ( Milieu Ambtenaar Stad Turnhout) Danny Vaes (spatial planner, IOK) Guido Geenen (WIT architecten) Jury members (mid and final reviews): Hugo Meeus (Stad Turnhout) Bart Van Gassen (St Lucas Gent) Paola Vigano’ (IUAVenezia) Joeri De Bruyn (Publisher) Guido Geenen (KULeuven) Marleen Goethals (Artesis Hogeschool Antwerpen) Cedric Heerman (Stad Turnhout) Griet Lambrechts (KULeuven) Alexandra Nurnberger (Herzog & De Meuron) Kelly Shannon (KULeuven) Ismae’l Sheikh Hassan (KULeuven) Marcel Smets (KULeuven) Laura Vescina (KULeuven) Edith Wouters (Ar-Tur, Turnhout)




ISBN 978-94-6018-316-4

Turnhout Studio Booklet  

Urbanism Studio Turnhout Booklet - fall semester 2010-2011 KU Leuven